Tests show the best and worst masks to limit the spread of Covid

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Three of the masks tested captured only 7% of the bacterial particles (Photo: Getty)

There are huge differences in the effectiveness of face masks on sale in supermarkets and large drugstores, according to a new study.

Consumer magazine Which one? tested 15 reusable sheet masks, including pleated, molded, stretch and multi-layered coverings.

While three of the masks tested only capture 7% of bacterial particles, the best performing face coverings were found to be as effective as surgical masks at blocking bacterial particles, preventing more than 99% of them from passing through the tissue. .

Bacterial particles were projected onto sections of the masks using an aerosol generator and the proportion passing through them was measured.

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The masks were also rated on their breathability and comfort, as well as their ability to survive being worn multiple times.

To see how breathable they were, the pressure needed to draw air through the masks was measured, while testers put each mask on and off 80 times to see how well they faced repeated use. .

Three testers with different face shapes then tried the masks on to rate them for their comfort, fit and ease of adjustment.

The NEQI reusable face mask sold in Boots and Ocado in sets of three for £ 15, and the Bags of Ethics mask, sold by ASOS and John Lewis, also costing £ 15 for three, came out on top.

This was due to a combination of good filtration scores while still being considered comfortably breathable.

The worst performing masks were the Termin8 lightweight breathable face cover available from Lloyds Pharmacy for £ 2, the Etiquette face cover sold at Superdrug for £ 3 and Asda’s white patterned masks £ 3.

They are all only made of one layer, which makes them lightweight and breathable, but affects their ability to filter out potentially harmful particles.

Which? said Asda had removed her face covering from sale following the findings, while Termin8 and Superdrug disputed the findings and insisted their masks meet government guidelines for cloth face covers.

Based on its findings, who? advises people to wear face masks of at least two layers and made from woven cotton.

Anna Studman, Senior Researcher at Which ?, said: “Our first independent lab test of reusable face coverings found that some fabric masks are very effective at blocking particles, but basic single-layer masks may not be. up to the task. ‘

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